Nigel Farage has long made it clear that he intends to stand for parliament next year, while so far refusing to say where. But the FT has the news that the Ukip leader is on the candidate selection list for Tory-held South Thanet. Ahead of a hustings meeting on 26 August, the local party secretary tells the paper: “It is the worst-kept secret in town. We now have two names on the list and one of them is Mr Farage. Whether he will get selected or not is another matter . . . although I’d be surprised if he doesn’t.”
Farage’s choice doesn’t come as a surprise. The constituency lies in his native Kent (where he has previously pledged to stand), and a recent Lord Ashcroft poll put Ukip in first place. In the May local elections, the party won seven out of eight seats on the county council, leaving the Tories without a single representative.
The current MP is the pro-European Laura Sandys (elected in 2010 with a majority of 7,617), who recently announced her decision to stand down at the general election last November. In her place the Tories have selected Craig Mackinlay, a former Ukip leader and deputy leader.
Farage finished fourth when he stood in the seat in 2005, and only managed third place when he ran in John Bercow’s Buckingham constituency in 2010, but he has good reason to believe he can improve on both of those performances this time round.